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By: David Church
In one of our recent family devotions, my wife and I sat our three children down to talk about the importance of 'family.' We do this ever so often because our children, and probably yours as well, often withdraw into their own world of fantasy and ignore the rest of the family. They each have their own room and their own ideas about how to spend their free time. If we allow them, they will shut themselves out from the rest of us to do their thing. While this can be cute when they are very young, my wife and I have noticed that it lends itself strongly to an attitude of selfishness. It becomes all about 'me' and less about others in the family. When the kids do get together, it becomes a war of words or worse, as each of them stand up for what they feel is 'their rights'. They have no sympathy or compassion for their siblings. It is almost as if they desire to build their own little 'kingdom' or 'empire' in their own little space.
As I was thinking about this it struck me that this is also a danger for all of us in ministry. If we are not careful, we can allow ourselves to get caught up in building 'our kingdom' instead of building 'His Kingdom.' Even though we feel like we are doing the work of Christ, it can become more about 'me' and less about others. There is a grey area here where the lines of demarcation become blurred. 'His Kingdom' begins to blend into 'my kingdom.' Motives become mismanaged. Desires turn dangerous. And it is not too long until 'my kingdom' becomes more important than anything or anybody else. Because of this danger, we all need to test ourselves every so often. We do this by asking; How do I feel about the others in this Kingdom? Do I truly have sympathy and compassion for their needs? Or, are my desires more important?
As we all do, I understand the importance of caring for others, but recently, while listening to a Jewish Rabbi, this understanding became crystal clear.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin was speaking of the typical Orthodox Jewish family. I paraphrase his words;
Why is it that everywhere in the world the Jewish people are so successful and wealthy? Why are their families so close knit and strong? Why is there very little divorce?
The obvious answer is they put God first. However, beyond that, it is because of their strong sense of 'family'.
The origin of the Hebrew word for 'family' means; to serve. A family is not a family unless they serve one another. Brother serves brother. Sister serves sister. Husbands serve their wives. They put others needs in front of their own. The Jewish people live this way.
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Solipsism is the belief that nothing exists outside of your self. If you, while reading this article, believe that this article and everything around you are figments of your imagination, you are solipsistic.
Sounds strange? No, it is very real.
Engine Charlie Wilson, former CEO of GM, once said, “What is good for GM is good for America!” Engine Charlie was indulging in solipsistic thinking on behalf of GM.
Grades in school may be another example of solipsism. The purpose of school is learning. We create a surrogate indicator of learning: grades. Then we collude with each other to pretend that grades are an accurate indicator that learning has or has not taken place. We no longer even question the legitimacy of grades.
Another example is sweeps week. Twice a year there are weeklong surveys of TV viewership. The ratings during sweeps week are important because they determine what the networks charge for advertising. The solipsism is this: We pretend that the programs during the sweeps week are representative of the network’s regular fare and that the ratings during sweeps are indicative of something real.
Another example: The Discipline of Market Leaders, a book that made The New York Times list of best-selling books. This occurred because those behind the book were able to identify which stores around the country were used by The New York Times as their sample for calculating which books were best sellers. By buying up their book at these stores, they could artificially inflate the figures. The solipsism: pretending that The New York Times list accurately depicts the sales of books (and that the volume of sales of books is an accurate measure of what is worthwhile to read).[ read more...]
A budget is the tool provided in accounting terms that gives us the proper indication of how we stand in our finances. Too often people refuse to prepare a budget because it seems cumbersome and boring. A budget can be implemented in most homes but give only 1-2 hours per month. That is not much time to have a clear indication as to where you stand financially. Not only will a budget give you a picture of where you stand, it will help you organize your bill paying so you don’t get behind and have to pay late fees, and it will show you the debt you have so you can pay it off systematically.
A budget is a guide that tells you whether you are going in the right direction so that you can expect to meet your financial goals. You may have goals and dreams but if you do not set us guidelines for reaching them and you do not measure your progress periodically, you may end up going so far in the wrong direction you can never get out of financial difficulty.
- A budget lets you control your money instead of your money controlling you.
- A budget lets you control your spending habits.
- A budget allows you to save in a systematic manner.
- A budget allows you to meet your goals.
- A budget will tell you if you are living within your means.
When you become a pastor you don't get past the need to hear the Word of God preached. In fact preaching is just as much for the saved and it is for the sinner.
1. Preaching saves preachers.
Since God chose preaching as His method to save mankind, one must continually hear the word of God preached in order to stay saved. Preaching saves sinners and saints alike. Hearing one's self preach is not enough to make that happen.
1 Cor 1:21
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
2. Preaching causes us to be accountable and to examine ourselves.
One of the dangers of only hearing yourself preach is never having anybody else correct you. You become in danger of being your only standard of right and wrong. Preachers need to hear the Truth just as much or more than anybody else.[ read more...]
(Mat 20:20 KJV) Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
This woman’s only desire was that her two sons would receive a place of position.
Jesus turns to the young men and asks, “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” People do not know the responsibility that comes with leadership. They have no idea the sleepless nights that comes with ministry.
Leadership within the church is viewed in some romantic sense. The fact of the matter is many are people worshipers. They fail to realize that this is God’s kingdom. The Scriptures tell us that he is a jealous God and He will not share his glory with anyone.
Some will do anything for position and the prestige that appears to come with it.
They take short cuts.
They will try to buy their way into a position.
They will use their influence to bully their way into a position.
They will claim they have the right to a position due to duration of their service.
They will use their relationship or friendship with someone else already in position.
They want the title of an office without the work or obligation that comes with it. They are unqualified to do the job, or fill the office, but because they have been around longer than anyone else, they feel they deserve it. Even if their qualifications or lack of qualifications actually disqualifies them for the position.[ read more...]
Don't slow it down to fit your expectation of what the service should be doing.
It doesn't have to be a fast song, just don't let it be a dead one.
The last song should be the most powerful one.
If the congregation is worshipping, let them enjoy the presence of God for a while.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:5)
Five truths of attitudes:
Truth #1: Our attitude determines how we approach life.
Are you someone who sees the glass half full or half empty? Do you even see the glass? The attitude we have whenever we wake up in the morning will usually dictate how the rest of our day will be.
The story is told of the grandpa and grandma who visited their grandchildren. Each afternoon, grandpa would lie down for a nap. One day, as a practical joke, the kids decided to put Limburger cheese in his moustache. Quite soon he awoke sniffing. "Why, this room stinks," he exclaimed as he got up and went out into the kitchen. He wasn't there long until he decided that the kitchen smelled too, so he walked outdoors for a breath of fresh air. Much to the grandpa's surprise, the open air brought no relief, and he proclaimed, "The whole world stinks!" How true is that in life? When we carry "Limburger cheese" in our attitudes, the whole world smells bad to us.[ read more...]
One of the biggest problems in many of our churches is a lack of leadership. Where do you find people who have leadership abilities?
"You don't have to bring in a hireling to find leadership in your church…the person you are looking for might be closer than you think."
People who have displayed faithfulness in small things. He might be the usher who is constantly faithful to the duties of ushering. Don't leave that person doing the same thing for 30 years because they do it so well. Move them into areas of leadership.
Look for people who worship well and who love their pastor. You might think they have no leadership ability, and they may not. But their love for God and their Pastor will give them the zeal they will need to learn how to lead from you.[ read more...]
Last week, time was spent on the Barnabas Blog with a series of posts called “Guard the Gates” and how important that our minds are in this spiritual battle that we are involved in. Late last night, I was mulling over the next series of things to write about that might bring a little inspiration to those hearty souls who are involved in ministry. During that time of productive meditation, I was drawn to another theme from Bunyan’s The Holy War that sort of lodged in my spirit.
Early on in the taking of Mansoul, Bunyan pulls us in with the majesty of his word pictures when he tells us that Captain Resistance was one of the chief men of the city who had great influence. As he tells us of the approach of Diabolus in attacking the Eye Gate and Ear Gate, Captain Resistance gets up on top of the walls of the city. From that high point, one of the deadly archers of Diabolus shoots him off of the wall with an arrow to the head. Obviously the word picture gives us the idea that Captain Resistance is a godly pastor who is preparing to shout his warning from the top of the wall. When he goes down, the whole city soon falls to the evil hordes of Diabolus and his minions.
After the capture of the city, Prince Emmanuel determines that he will attack the city in the same manner that Diabolus managed to breach the place. He will attack by the Eye-Gate and the Ear-Gate; however, Prince Emmanuel determines to put a huge amount of energy of his attack into the Ear-Gate. So begins the journey of recovery for Mansoul. The four captains are all preachers whose voices will assault the Ear-Gate so the citizens within will be able to turn the tables on Diabolus.
• Captain Boanerges—He was the leader of the others. He was the strongest of all of them and his first lieutenant was Mr. Thunder. They all wore black and the insignia on their uniforms was three lightning bolts. In all four companies were ten thousand men.
• Captain Conviction—His first lieutenant was Mr. Sorrow. Their uniforms were pale and their insignia was the book of the Law that issued a flame of fire.
• Captain Judgment—His first lieutenant was Mr. Terror. Their uniforms were red and their insignia was a burning fiery furnace.
• Captain Execution—His first lieutenant was Mr. Justice. Their uniforms were also red and the insignia had a fruitless tree with an ax lying at the root of the tree.[ read more...]
I’ve heard many people say over the last year that, as we enter into the 21st century, it will not be the size of the church that matters, but its health that will ensure its survival. So, what about the health of the church? May I suggest a few guidelines for assessing the health of a congregation of any size?
- Biblically based. Do your congregation members have a clear understanding of what they believe and substantial information to assist them in defending their faith? Is there a discipleship- training program?
- Mutually concerned. Do your people genuinely care for one another? Is there a system in operation that easily allows your congregation to know when people have needs and a prayer chain to respond to those needs?
- Socially concerned. If you do not have a small group ministry, do you have a Sunday School program that provides adequate time for your people to break bread together? Church is fellowship as much as it is a formal worship service.
- Community saturated. Are you aware of the day-to-day decisions that are made in your community that affect the school system, the social programs, and the overall moral climate of the city you serve?
- Financially stable. The church that is fiscally responsible will be able to weather any situation. Every pastor and board should insist on maintaining a certain dollar reserve, and do everything possible to avoid paralyzation of ministry through an unrealistic building or property debt. People must be taught by example to give and to give cheerfully.